A number of people have picked up on the language that was contained in the official MoJ press release last week announcing the two senior appointments to the nascent National Probation Service. Obviously prepared by enthusiastic media-types who often either get the facts wrong or are sloppy in the use of language, after naming the two appointees, it went on to say:-
They will lead a team of the country’s top offender managers, working with around 30,000 offenders each year who pose a high-risk of serious harm to the public.
Oh dear, 'top offender managers' - in that one sloppy ill-thought-out use of the term it both condemns the remaining 70% of OM's as not being 'top' and unwittingly belies the thinking down there at MoJ/NOMS HQ. They are treating probation with complete disdain at the moment and this is but just one small example. I notice from twitter that Sarah Billiald intends to 'bring the matter up with the TR comms team', but at least London Napo have gone to the extent of writing a letter to the minister demanding an apology:-
Dear Mr Wright,
A press release was issued by the Ministry of Justice on Friday 9th August 2013 announcing the appointments of Mike Maiden and Sarah Payne as heads of the new National Probation Service.
I am sure you are in no doubt about the extent to which NAPO opposes your proposals to abolish Probation Trusts and replace them with a greatly reduced National Probation Service while putting out to competitive tender the vast majority of the work that trusts currently undertake.
If NAPO and other campaigning organisations are unable to make you see sense, and your proposals for the transformation of rehabilitation services are forced upon us, it is estimated that only 30% of existing staff will continue to work in the public sector. The rest will be working for other providers, as yet to be determined.
The press release, which gave details of Mr Maiden and Ms Payne’s new responsibilities, stated that:
“They will lead a team of the country’s top offender managers, working with around 30,000 offenders each year who pose a high-risk of serious harm to the public.”
You have added insult to injury by implying that those offender managers who will not be working in the public sector, many of whom will be my members, will be not be “top offender managers.”
I really want to ask you to reconsider your proposals in total but failing that I invite you to consider apologising immediately to those of my members who, by your definition, are not “top offender managers.”
Talking of Sarah Billiald, it would seem that she is no longer CEO of the Kent Probation Trust having decided to step aside in order to lead a staff mutual covering Kent and Surrey and Sussex. I presume this move now effectively precludes her being able to speak on behalf of the Probation Chief's Association? Not that we'd have noticed in recent weeks, but with Sue Hall seemingly also involved in the formation of a mutual, does anyone now speak for the PCA?
On the subject of silence, I wonder when we might expect to hear something from Tania Bassett, Napo's new press, parliament and campaign person?
Meanwhile it's interesting to note that MoJ/NOMS management are still refusing to release the risk register and have turned down a Freedom of Information request on the grounds that the omnishambles is still in the design stage. This, despite two key staff appointments having been made and the draft Community Rehabilitation Company's Memorandum and Articles of Association being published:-
With regard to the risk register for the Rehabilitation Programme, I can confirm that the Department holds the information you have requested. Some of the information contained within this document is, however, exempt from disclosure.
We are not obliged to provide information if it relates to the formulation of government policy. In this case, the information relates to the development of government policy (section 35 (1) (a) of the Act).
In line with the terms of this exemption in the Freedom of Information Act, we have considered whether it would be in the public interest for us to provide you with the information, despite the exemption being applicable. In this case, we have concluded that the public interest favours withholding the majority of the information.
I sincerely hope an appeal is being formulated.
I'm grateful to Mike for pointing me in the direction of a piece written by John Steele the Chair of Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust and published in the bumper Spring edition of the Probation Association's Interface magazine. He basically says the time for discussion is over and it's up to Trust Board's to deliver what ever the government wants. So, I guess no great surprise that his response to Thursday's 'Deafening Silence' post says what it does, but at least he took the trouble to say it and spread the message to a wider audience. We know where we stand as far as independent Trust Boards are concerned - they just do what they're told by government apparently.